Roughly 95% of US Apple users opted out of App Tracking in iOS 14.5

New analytics for iOS 14.5 show that the vast majority of users are opting out of App Tracking.

55

Apple finally rolled out its iOS 14.5 update to iPhone and iPads last month, adding new features to further improve the user experience. iOS 14.5 also introduced the controversial App Tracking Transparency feature, which gives users the option to opt in or out of having their data tracked across applications. New analytics are in, and they reveal that a large majority of Apple users decided to opt out of App Tracking when given a choice.

This news comes by way of an analytics report shared by Flurry Analytics. When users open up apps that track data, they are given an option whether or not to allow said data to be tracked. While the assumption is that most users would quickly decline being tracked, the numbers may be worse that companies feared.

According to the report, only 5% of Apple users in the United States consented to having their data tracked. This means that roughly 95% of users opted out. As for worldwide users, about 87% of people opted out of having their data tracked. In most cases, App Tracking is used to gather user data in order to serve them ads tailored to their interests.

With numbers this massive, the new feature will undoubtedly have a major impact on the business of many companies. One of which is Facebook, who has already begun to roll out messages to users urging them to opt into app tracking, with the hint of a threat at making Facebook and Instagram a paid service.

With just how many users are deciding to opt out of App Tracking, it will be interesting to see what major ramifications it has down the line. If you’d like to just opt out of App Tracking in every instance, there’s a way to automatically do so. Stick with us here on Shacknews for everything Apple.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

From The Chatty
  • reply
    May 10, 2021 10:00 AM

    Donovan Erskine posted a new article, Roughly 95% of US Apple users opted out of App Tracking in iOS 14.5

    • reply
      May 10, 2021 10:08 AM

      A sizable percentage would be wise not to update at all.

      • reply
        May 10, 2021 10:16 AM

        ...because patching real world security holes is bad?

        • reply
          May 10, 2021 11:03 AM

          Because nerfing your own hardware and planned obsolescence is bad.

          • reply
            May 10, 2021 11:21 AM

            iOS updates have either had marginal effect or actually improved performance on older hardware. Ars Technica has done an annual series dispelling this myth for years now.

            The cutoff for this is the iPhone 6S/SE, it can't be stressed enough how big a leap the A9 was over their prior chips

            • reply
              May 10, 2021 11:31 AM

              he's referring to the battery-gate stuff because he thinks that's more important than security

              reminder this is the guy who thinks 'exterminate all bats' is the obvious best solution to solving future pandemics

              • reply
                May 10, 2021 11:33 AM

                The battery stuff is a non-issue at this point. Yeah they should have communicated about it but their reasoning for the feature makes sense. And now they do communicate.

                • reply
                  May 10, 2021 11:49 AM

                  Yeah, they added a battery health indicator and optimized charging the following year. It was handled very well, all things considered.

              • reply
                May 10, 2021 11:47 AM

                Yeah I know, crazy shit but worth the shot!

              • reply
                May 10, 2021 12:01 PM

                Well at least he is consistent in his bat-tery concerns

            • reply
              May 10, 2021 1:20 PM

              Everyone just needs to start ignoring AluminumMallard on this issue.

              We've been through this over and over with him. He loves jumping into Apple threads complaining about "planned obsolescence" which is just him still holding onto the idiotic conspiracy theory that Apple was slowing older devices to force people to upgrade, and then NEVER addresses anyone who tries to point him to the facts of the matter.

              Here he is doing the exact same thing less than 2 months ago: https://www.shacknews.com/chatty?id=40515403#item_40515403

              He just wants to continue kicking his long dead horse. Just stop feeding the troll.

              • reply
                May 10, 2021 3:39 PM

                They got their asses handed to them in court over this very issue.

                Anecdotally I’ve had multiple iPhones and a mbpro slow substantially upon updates, but my anecdotes I know are not of interest.

          • reply
            May 10, 2021 11:25 AM

            Which hardware got nerfed? My iPhone 8 works just fine on it.

          • reply
            May 10, 2021 11:27 AM

            I was rocking an iPhone 7 until this year, and still have a 2014? MacBook Pro that works like a champ. Both receive security updates. Both are performant. For work I use a 2020 MacBook Pro, and I'm on an iPhone 12 now, but I could have stayed on the iPhone 7 for longer. I was just bored.

            • reply
              May 10, 2021 11:32 AM

              Yeah my MacBook Air from 2013 still works great.

            • reply
              May 10, 2021 1:38 PM

              I replaced my iPhone 7 a few months ago, it was definitely showing its age when I upgraded. Like switching apps was super laggy, using safari to view the shack was choppy, etc.

            • reply
              May 10, 2021 3:41 PM

              You think your MacBook Pro still works great because like most people you update constantly and therefore are a frog in boiling water. If you are a reluctant updater like myself and only update your MacBook Pro or your iPhone when you’re dragged kicking and screaming by essential apps — you WOULD notice a substantial hit to performance. When I updated my 2015 MacBook Pro retina after three years the performance fell off a cliff.

              • reply
                May 10, 2021 4:09 PM

                There is empirical data with regards to the iPhone that you are objectively wrong, but ok

              • reply
                May 10, 2021 4:54 PM

                you could provide some benchmarks to explain why it's worth the tradeoff for all the security bugs you're recommending everyone exposing themselves to. It shouldn't be hard to find data to support your theory.

                • reply
                  May 10, 2021 6:30 PM

                  I don’t know. Let’s wait for the multi-state years-long investigation into just these practices by Apple to play out.

                  • reply
                    May 10, 2021 6:51 PM

                    You actually don't have to wait years for lawyers to do software benchmarks for you. All sorts of serious iOS and MacOS reviews include benchmarks showing performance of the latest update on different years' hardware for you to compare whether it's worth upgrading your hardware or software.

                    But if you're insistent on ignoring available data and waiting for lawyers to provide benchmarks before allowing anyone to make claims you should probably stop telling people to not download years of security patches.

                    • reply
                      May 10, 2021 6:54 PM

                      Thanks, I’ll take lawyers and the discovery process against your unknown (and unlinked) sources.

                      • reply
                        May 10, 2021 7:31 PM

                        Sure, just willingly offer up all your devices to attack because you perceive a small amount of degradation in performance over time. Awesome idea. Brilliant. Everyone should do this!

                        • reply
                          May 10, 2021 7:33 PM

                          If it were a small amount of degradation, I assure you I wouldn’t bother.

                      • reply
                        May 10, 2021 8:34 PM

                        I’m sure you’re capable of using Google and if you had any desire to make a convincing point you’d do it yourself.

                        You are making bad decisions and promoting others do the same based on… ignoring the data that exists and then pretending there is no data. Meanwhile people who have actually looked at the data are telling you you’re wrong but you won’t bother to look anything up.

                        Further, Apple settled a bunch of these lawsuits already. So now your premise is that having been caught and punished for it once, Apple is still doing it in some unspecified, as yet undiscovered way, and everyone should skip security updates forever given that. Just incredibly bad advice built on faulty data and faulty assumptions.

                        • reply
                          May 10, 2021 8:45 PM

                          Despite what you are saying in this thread (repeatedly) the data and jury are still “out” on whether or not Apple is intentionally slowing down older devices. At a bare minimum they are unintentionally (or intentionally with good intentions) slowing down older devices.

                          • reply
                            May 10, 2021 9:22 PM

                            No it's not. Apple already admitted to what you're complaining about specifically with regard to battery health and clock speed. UI was added to iOS to communicate this feature and millions were paid in lawsuits as well as battery replacements.

                            Now you're accusing them of... something else? But there's no evidence to support your claim. Meanwhile you will act as if it is true and assume that the cost of that (5% slowdown? 10%? how could anyone know???) is worth the cost of skipping all security updates forever and pretend like this is the smart call that everyone should make.

                            Anyone can benchmark new versions of iOS on older hardware at any time and measure whether the device slowed down after the update. Reviewers have been doing this for years. You should have evidence of a reasonable suspicion at this point if you're going to forgo all security updates for years longer and recommend others do the same.

                            • reply
                              May 10, 2021 9:36 PM

                              Battery gate was the opening of the flood gates. Apple settled for hundreds of millions of dollars, offered a semi-plausible battery “performance management” excuse (lapped up by you and others), and still the issue is far from settled. As I mentioned, they’re under investigation by multiple states’ attorneys general for this very issue.

                              • reply
                                May 10, 2021 10:00 PM

                                Nothing is getting 'lapped up' by people uncritically. There are people who specialize in measuring this stuff for public consumption. You could start consuming their content if you felt like having an informed opinion. Who has provided data that Apple's performance management of battery health is only semi-plausible? That it doesn't comport with the realities of how batteries work? What data are you basing your decision making off of?

                                Instead you want to sit around telling everyone to stop applying security updates based on what exactly? What data? How much performance are you saving on a device so you can leave your private data open for exfiltration? Meanwhile you're pretending we're the ones making uninformed decisions. Apple could be publicly stating that they're slowing down my device 5% per year with new OS updates and it'd still be correct for me to take security updates since a 20% perf degradation over 4 years will be barely noticeable and I'll likely be buying new hardware after 4-5 years.

                                • reply
                                  May 10, 2021 10:12 PM

                                  You seem rather sure of yourself, presumably because Ars Technica or MacsRLife.com did a study. In which case the ongoing multi-year investigations will surely amount to nothing and should probably throw in the towel.

                                  • reply
                                    May 10, 2021 10:29 PM

                                    Because we're not talking about secret back room deals here. The government can subpoena anything they want but your entire premise is measurable in public data. If your favorite lawsuits turn up emails saying 'yes slow down the phones!' then guess what? If it actually happens then someone should've already been able to measure that fact on the old phones. And there're plenty of interested folks as well as crazy anti-Apple zealots who would love to find that smoking gun. So you should be able to easily find the evidence to support your theory with no need for lawyers. At this point the lawyers are only necessary to apply the punishment, if any.

                                    You can already prove your case with existing public data demonstrating the slowdown exists on older devices over time with newer software. And you keep telling people to stop applying security patches because of this data and yet you cannot present any of it. One is forced to assume actually there is no data to support your theory and you'd be acting very foolishly to forgo years of security updates for no good reason.

          • reply
            May 10, 2021 1:35 PM

            Today's Bad Take brought to you by AluminumMallard!

          • reply
            May 10, 2021 3:16 PM

            oh we're doing this again lol

          • reply
            May 10, 2021 3:23 PM

            You need to stop with this tripe.

    • reply
      May 10, 2021 10:10 AM

      Gonna be a huge boon for apple in the guise of privacy

    • reply
      May 10, 2021 10:21 AM

      Good. Mine was off by default which doesn’t even let the apps ask me at all.

      • reply
        May 10, 2021 10:21 AM

        Mine too but I turned it on just to see which apps were asking. Turns out it was only IG/FB.

        • reply
          May 10, 2021 10:59 AM

          It’s funny because they don’t even have a great way to ask you.

          IG gave me some sort of dialog that said “hey if you say yes to the next box we will be able to tailor ads that will be more to your liking” and the average person is thinking “I don’t even want ads to begin with, why would I think it’s okay for you to follow me across websites so that you can track me? What the fuck do I care? I don’t pay attention to your ads anyway”

          • reply
            May 10, 2021 11:02 AM

            It says it tracks apps you use and websites you visit on this device - how did we even get to a point where apps are allowed to do that?

            • reply
              May 10, 2021 11:04 AM

              Yeah I don’t know if that means they used to be able to track cookies or whatever from Safari or they just mean when you tap on something in the app they can know that info like the URL or whatnot.

              Either way fuck ‘em.

            • reply
              May 10, 2021 11:08 AM

              They have been able to do that for years and years on iPhone. It's great it's finally being stopped

    • reply
      May 10, 2021 11:14 AM

      Lets hope Facebook starts charging people to use Instagram. The tears from data brokers is so good right now.

    • reply
      May 10, 2021 11:29 AM

      Facebook threatening to charge? Call their bluff. No one will pay for Facebook.

    • reply
      May 10, 2021 11:58 AM

      It was off by default in the update to me, which is great, it should be! But it’s not like people are affirmatively disabling this from what I can tel

      • reply
        May 10, 2021 1:26 PM

        How much of the 4% who enabled it were doing it for integration testing? =P

    • reply
      May 10, 2021 1:30 PM

      Give the evil scientists at Facebook, et al, a 3-6 months and they'll figure out a way to entice opt-in without running afoul of Apple's policies

      • reply
        May 10, 2021 1:42 PM

        They'll just disable Facebook Messenger unless you opt in, lol

        • reply
          May 10, 2021 2:35 PM

          Nah, that’s too obvious, Apple already said it would kick out apps that extort users for their data like that.

          I mean in the end, that’s exactly what it’ll boils down to, but they have to be real slick about it

    • reply
      May 10, 2021 1:49 PM

      do Apple's own apps obey this anti-tracking requirement in collecting data from your usage across Apple apps and iOS for Apple's ad network?

      • reply
        May 10, 2021 2:00 PM

        haha

        • reply
          May 10, 2021 2:41 PM

          It’s so absurd. Everyone is lauding Apple here because of course people want privacy but imagine Google launching this feature on Android.

          “Great news! No one is allowed to track you across apps and websites on Android anymore! Fuck Facebook! I mean, no one except us because we own the OS obviously. Also btw while you’re here we thought you might like to know we just added a new slot for ads in the App Store search, not related to this change obviously. Ttyl”

          The good news for Apple of course is Google would have a very hard time launching such a feature because it’s so blatantly anticompetitive given Google’s share of OS and digital ads. Apple can get away with it since their ad business is still tiny for now but the motivation is obvious.

          • reply
            May 10, 2021 3:14 PM

            Great strategic move by apple to use Facebook as cover for the move though

          • reply
            May 10, 2021 3:26 PM

            Google should launch this feature on Android- with the ability to turn it off for Google ads as well, like Apple has.

      • reply
        May 10, 2021 3:20 PM

        Apple has had the ability to turn it off for Apple stuff forever on iOS. Setting - privacy then analytics and improvements and Apple advertising section.

        And, if you want to pull a record of what Apple does have you can go to privacy.Apple.com, sign in, and request a copy.

        • reply
          May 10, 2021 3:29 PM

          yeah now apple is enforcing the user tracking rules and options they've already been applying to themselves for years to everyone else on the platform.

        • reply
          May 10, 2021 4:00 PM

          Yes, Apple tracking is treated differently with special UI.

          Why is turning off Apple’s tracking not under Privacy -> Tracking at the top of the Privacy UI? If I am so concerned about turning off tracking wouldn’t I want it there? As a user why would I expect to have to go to separate section all the way down below the list of each app in Privacy to a special section for Apple Advertising and in the Analytics and Improvements section? This is really not unlike Google’s intentionally misleading turning off of Location Services stuff.

          The reason Apple would give is because their ads are special and don’t track you. In Apple’s special Apple privacy UI it says “the Apple advertising platform does not track you.” Except it mentions a bunch of things about my device and behavior that will impact the ads I see (age/gender/etc if I have personalized ads toggled, otherwise device info and query params and story content).

          No one would be defending Google or FB creating UI like this that privileged their tracking services and made it more likely for a privacy conscious user to think they’d turned off tracking when they’d really only turned off every competitor’s tracking.

      • reply
        May 10, 2021 8:10 PM

        Yes, they do obey the requirement. ATT is about 3rd-party tracking, Facebook and Apple and others are still free to use 1st-party data for tracking. This means that platforms that are already well-established will get an advantage (because they already have a large amount of 1st-party data to leverage) while making it harder for new competitors to get a foothold.

        • reply
          May 10, 2021 9:24 PM

          oh right, thanks, another one of these privacy features/laws that just entrenches Google and FB more but draws cheers anyway

          • reply
            May 10, 2021 9:35 PM

            Not saying it’s a good or bad thing, I was just answering your question.

    • reply
      May 10, 2021 2:00 PM

      So does toggling that option automatically block tracking that may have already been enabled in apps? Or does it only prevent new apps from getting access to tracking?

      I toggled the option, but I'm curious if I have other apps that were already authorized to track my data that I need to somehow clean out?

      • reply
        May 10, 2021 2:12 PM

        Yes. That setting shows any current apps that have tried to track you. Turning it off there blocks all apps from doing so

        • reply
          May 10, 2021 2:13 PM

          Except now just apple can do it and profit exclusively from it, instead of Facebook

          • reply
            May 10, 2021 3:28 PM

            I don't understand what you're saying- no 3rd party apps can track across apps now. What are you worried about? A bunch of Apple ads in your apps? They don't have an ad network outside of the app store.

            • reply
              May 10, 2021 3:36 PM

              I’m not worried about anything. I’m just saying that Apple is saying they’re doing this for ‘privacy’, but really they’re just doing this to build their ad business.

          • reply
            May 10, 2021 3:30 PM

            apple already let you disabled all of their own tracking-for-ad-purposes years ago, those options are still there

            • reply
              May 10, 2021 3:33 PM

              Yes- previously with an iOS device I could turn of Apple tracking but could do nothing about Facebook or Google tracking. Now I can turn off tracking for all 3 of them. I don't see how this could be a negative.

          • reply
            May 10, 2021 3:40 PM

            That’s not true, though

            • reply
              May 10, 2021 3:45 PM

              You think apple is doing this just to be dicks to Facebook, for no gain to apple?

              • reply
                May 10, 2021 3:47 PM

                I don't think they would be dumb enough to tell users they are opted out of something when they really aren't. Google is being fined 5 billion dollars for doing that shit with incognito users, right now.

                https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-to-face-5b-lawsuit-over-tracking-users-in-incognito-mode/399113/

                It's not something they could do without getting caught at some point, I don't think they would do it.

                • reply
                  May 10, 2021 3:57 PM

                  Users *are* opted out - users are opted out of data collected by app developers like FB , Instagram, everyone that’s a 3rd party. Users are not being opted out of being tracked by Apple via this setting. Apple is using your data to personalize ads too, and yes, you can opt out via privacy settings but they’re not going to show you this same pop up screen every time you open up the App Store or a native iOS app. See the link I pasted above.

                  • reply
                    May 10, 2021 3:59 PM

                    Ahh I see what you mean.

                    Don't they ask you if it's ok to opt you in to data tracking when you set up your device? Or is that something different as well?

              • reply
                May 10, 2021 3:48 PM

                They're 100% doing it to be dicks to Google AND Facebook - but they're not doing it to take over advertising. They just want to cripple the rev source of competitors. I'm just saying in this case- it is actually good for the end user.

                • reply
                  May 10, 2021 5:15 PM

                  Apple isn't looking to take over digital advertising, but they do run an ad unit and it produces over a billion in revenue per year. They just doubled the ad inventory in their most valuable advertising surface (App Store search) for a reason (app install ads were once one of the most valuable types of ads on the Facebook newsfeed iirc). It absolutely hurts others more than it helps Apple but this would look much more pro-consumer if Apple wasn't running their own ad network at a massive scale while lamenting how bad advertising and tracking is while giving their own networks special treatment.

                  • reply
                    May 10, 2021 5:16 PM

                    Apple for sure needs to be reigned in with the App Store stuff.

                    • reply
                      May 10, 2021 5:26 PM

                      I think this is useful context for people to think of App Store advertising:

                      Amazon’s “Other” unit, which is primarily made up of advertising but also includes sales related to other service offerings, grew revenue 77% year over year to more than $6.9 billion, the company reported on Thursday.

                      https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/29/amazons-ads-business-nears-7-billion-a-quarter-posts-77percent-growth.html

                      Amazon isn't trying to dethrone FB/Google for digital advertising across the internet. But their site is big enough to be generating billions of dollars in ad revenue per quarter. FB made enormous money on app install ads in the FB newsfeed when that was the best way to advertise new iOS apps. Apple isn't stupid. They added another ad slot to the App Store because it's real money, especially as the company continues its shift to 'services' and recurring revenue instead of hardware sales with increasingly long upgrade cycles. The idea that it's incredibly pro consumer when Apple tracks you to serve the best ads when you search for an iOS app in the App Store but makes it so that searching for that app via Google is worse is kinda farcical to me.

                      And maybe that's all fine and a net good for folks but these topics frequently are discussed in very basic, binary terms that this is obviously just a net good because Fuck Facebook! end of discussion.

                      • reply
                        May 10, 2021 5:59 PM

                        I believe I heard on the Pivot podcast last week that Amazon is now #3 or 4 (?)in revenue of digital advertising

              • reply
                May 10, 2021 3:49 PM

                Gain users from having a privacy focused platform?

    • reply
      May 10, 2021 9:08 PM

      Marketing, finds a way...

    • reply
      May 10, 2021 10:24 PM

      It’s important to note here that ATT allows users to opt out of tracking, which is a peculiar term that is defined in a very specific way. When a user opts out of tracking through the ATT prompt, that user prevents the app from co-mingling any data it collects with data owned by other parties for the purposes of ad targeting. I explain why this particular privacy protection is, charitably, exaggerated, and, cynically, deceptive in The privacy mirage:

      "This is exactly the same strategy that Apple is deploying with ATT, as I describe in the presentation embedded above: by artificially defining “privacy” as the distinction between first- and third-party data usage, the largest platforms simply entrench their market positions. Google owns search and Chrome, and Apple owns the App Store. If first-party data is the commodity of empire for digital advertising, then Google and Apple and various other large platforms fortify their empires through the “first-party mandate”: the decree that the use of first-party data in ad targeting is privacy compliant but that the co-mingling of first- and third-party data for ad targeting is not."
      ...
      But under these conditions, the exact quality and quantity of consumer data continues to be harvested and utilized for ads targeting under ATT as was utilized before ATT. Nothing has changed with ATT: a “big tech” company continues to monitor app usage and monetization for the purposes of targeting ads, except that with ATT, the company is Apple instead of Facebook. To a true privacy zealot — someone for whom any ads targeting is an ethical disaster — would this new privacy configuration of “First Party = Good, Third Party = Bad” be acceptable?


      https://mobiledevmemo.com/apple-robbed-the-mobs-bank/

      Everything you search for, browse, and purchase on the App Store or via in-app purchases is used to target ads to you in the increasing number of ad slots in the App Store, Apple News, etc. But it's not tracking you so don't worry.

      Can't say it's not good strategy.

Hello, Meet Lola